I met with Bob and Sharon Yocum recently on a beautiful, clear Southern California winter morning at the Crafton Hills College garden in Yucaipa, California. With the snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains in the distance, it was a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning viewing the garden at the College that they have been instrumental in developing and helping to grow. I learned more about their mutual love of gardening and helping others, as well as their extensive knowledge of gardening. Bob is a 20-year Master Gardener. Sharon has extensive gardening knowledge also, and recently decided to “make it official” by becoming a Master Gardener trainee.
Like many Master Gardeners, Bob has a life-time love of growing things. He first learned about the benefits of having a vegetable garden from his grandmother and grandfather. Through working in his grandparent's garden, the necessity of growing one's own food became deeply ingrained in Bob. The family garden was not only a source of sustenance, but also of beauty that was shared with others. His grandmother had a flower garden and Bob shared the family's joy of gardening by taking flowers to his teachers.
When I met Bob, he told me, “when things are grown with love, they grow better.” I realized very quickly that those are words that Bob and Sharon live by. They have combined their mutual love of gardening and growing food with helping people from around the world. They have inspired others by teaching them about the benefits of sustainable gardening and feeding them nutritious food. Family vacations, free weekends and even Bob's birthday weekend were spent at Sommer Haven Ranch in Lancaster, California helping start a garden and teaching gardening classes. Their focus was to help the community learn about sustainable gardening practices, start their own gardens, and learn how to cook what they grew - a true Farm to Table experience. Gardening students from all over the world attended the classes to learn about sustainable gardening practices that they took back to their individual countries. The international attendees learned new gardening practices and techniques from Bob and Sharon. Bob is very quick to point out that he and Sharon also learned new gardening techniques from attendees who came from such places as Nigeria, the Philippines and Uganda. He is extremely generous in sharing his gardening knowledge with others so “they can be successful, come back and teach him new things”. Students had the opportunity to receive certificates after they completed the classes. One of the requirements to receive the certificate was for the student to start their own community garden, making the classes “the gift that keeps on giving”.
At Sommer Haven Ranch, gardeners always grew more than they needed, not just for themselves but to give away to others. They shared knowledge, resources and labor with one another. If a fellow gardener needed help, everyone pitched in to help with whatever was needed to ensure the success of the gardens and the community.
Master Gardeners reach people of varying levels of gardening experience and physical capabilities. Bob and Sharon learned about Loma Linda University Medical Center East Campus which provides physical medicine and rehabilitation, among other specialties at the facility. Bob and other Master Gardeners helped with the design and building of a 4x8 table at the facility, that could be raised or lowered via a pulley system making it wheelchair accessible. The table made the gardening workspace easily accessible, proving Bob's belief “that everyone has something to contribute.”
Talking with Professor Janine Ledoux, I learned about food insecurity, the concept of not knowing when or where your next meal is coming from. For Janine, Bob and Sharon food insecurity is not a concept, it is a reality in today's world that they have decided to do something about. As volunteers of the Blessing Center when it was open in Redlands, they collected and distributed food donated by local organizations, as well as from local gardens to be given away to those in need. When the Blessing Center closed, they became involved in collecting donated food to be shared at monthly community dinners at the Family Services Association of Redlands.
Bob and Sharon instilled a love of gardening and helping feed those in need in their 4 children. Their family has become involved with a Central California organization called Gleanings for the Hungry, working as part of a team that makes and ships dried fruit and soup mix. Tons of California cull fruit is thrown away annually. Gleanings for the Hungry takes fruit such as peaches that may have gone unused, then dries and ships it all over the world helping feed the poor and needy.
I came away from my time spent with Bob and Sharon humbled by their philosophy that if you have a meal with, or wash dishes with someone after a meal, you find out a lot about them – what kind of person they are, the essence of who they are. I may not have washed dishes with Bob and Sharon, but through the few hours I spent with them, I got to know them better, and am proud to be part of the Master Gardener community with them.
Bob and Sharon have seen a lot of evolution in the Master Gardener program over the 20 years that Bob has been a Master Gardener. It is apparent that they are very proud to have been part of the program for so many years. The friendships they have developed with fellow Master Gardeners are deeply personal and important to them. They view their fellow Master Gardeners as family. As Bob told me, “Master Gardeners are there when you need them.”
Photographer: Sharon Yocum
Author: Debbie LeDoux, Master Gardener trainee.
- Author: Michele Martinez
From the outset, Christy was not shy about getting her hands dirty. In the training, she says, “I did my presentation on vermicomposting. Then I gave the worm presentation at the Herbivore Festival at Crafton Hills College.” With a strong interest in community gardening, Christy soon joined Highland's Giving Garden located at Highland Congregational Church. Founded in 2016 by Tracy Powell, the group includes Master Gardener, Jerry Poupard, and his wife, Robin. “Highland's Giving Garden has 24 raised beds," says Christy. “Twelve are rented by community members and 10% of our harvest must be donated to someone.” Produce from the other 12 beds goes to the food banks in Redlands and San Bernardino. "We also have a small orchard," Christy adds, "and all that produce also goes to the food banks.”
Through the online community, Christy got involved with a plant-trader's group. Connecting with Inland Empire Plant Traders on Facebook, Christy meets up with the group every other month. “People bring different plants to give away,” she says. “Some bring other things, like jam to trade. One lady brings eggs. We save our egg cartons for her.” Through this network, Christy's learned to grow sugar cane (”It grows year-round!”), and she's learning about new plants shared by members, like Asian Pennywort (Centella asiatica), originally from Vietnam. “The lady uses it in salads and green drinks.”
Learning is an important part of Christy's life as a gardener. This year she was accepted in Huerta del Valle's pilot New Farmer Training Program (NFTP). The seven-month course explores regenerative farming, food equity, community-building, and a full spectrum of urban farm management topics through presentations, field trips, and hands-on activities. Students who complete the training will be eligible to apply to Huerta's Farm Incubator Program, where they'll have the opportunity to receive subsidized access to land, equipment, and technical assistance as they launch projects under Huerta del Valle's supervision and mentorship.
Master Gardeners find opportunities to work with partnering organizations, like area conservation agencies. Christy explains, “I was in the first cohort of the Riverside Food Rescue & Waste Prevention Ambassador Program. We met five times and learned about various aspects of food rescue and waste prevention. At the end of the classes we had to do a community project and volunteer hours. I volunteered with Gleaners for Good. We collected citrus from community members and delivered it mostly to Feeding America Riverside/San Bernardino And I gave a vermicomposting talk at the Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation District (RCRCD)."
Whether you are new to Master Gardeners, or a seasoned veteran, you surely want to make a difference. Why not take a page from Christy Gray's playbook? Find the heart of community through its gardens - and the people who tend them. Below is a list of community garden projects across the County, compiled by Robin Rowe of Master Gardeners. Thanks Christy, for the inspiration.
Community Gardens in San Bernardino County (February, 2019)
Huerta del Valle, 831 Belmont St. Ontario 91761. Huerta del Valle Contact: (English) email@example.com or (Spanish) firstname.lastname@example.org (note that, in addition to the Huerta del Valle organization, there are several other non-profits that have plots at this site and sponsor programming).
Earth to Fork Garden (Caramel Connections Foundation) has a plot at Huerta del Valle. Grows produce to give to the community. Sponsors Saturday morning talks for the community on gardening, nutrition and cooking topics. Contact: Elizabeth McSwain (909) 697-9017, CCFevents2018@gmail.com
Montclair Community Garden, 9500-9574 Ramona Ave. Montclair 91763. Contact: City of Montclair 909-626-8571
Incredible Edibles, 740 W. 26th St., Upland. Contact: Mary Petit 909-262-1855
Rolling Ridge Elementary School, Chino Hills. Contact: Marissa_Lovato@chino.k12.ca.us, Stacy_Colby@chino.k12.ca.us , Anne_Whyte@chino.k12.ca.us. 909-628-9375.
Cucamonga Christian Fellowship, 11376 Fifth Street, Rancho Cucamonga. MG Contact: Michael Painter, email@example.com
***Community Garden at Anne Shirells Park in San Bernardino is being developed by the Akoma Unity Center partnering with the city Parks and Rec Dept. Contact: Micah@akomaunitycenter.org 909-217-7956 (MG Valerie Dobesh has been working with them).
***Benjamin E. Jones Community Resource Center, Located at 2972 California St. San Bernardino, CA. Contact: Pastor Paul Jones (909) 296-1233 www.BEJCRC.org is planning a community garden with raised beds to open this spring. (MG Valerie Dobesh has been working with them).
Riverside /San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc. has a Community Garden at 11980 Mt. Vernon Ave, Grand Terrace. Contact: Valerie Dobesh
San Bernardino Community Garden at 6th and Pedley St, San Bernardino
Veterans Exploration Garden, Speicher Memorial Park, 2501 Pacific Street, San Bernardino. Contact: Richard Valdez at DAVcal.org
City of Rialto Community Gardens. Contact: 909-421-7222 (MGs Tim and Lynn Brown Summers)
- At Grace Lutheran Church, 539 N. Acacia Ave., Rialto
- At Bud Bender Park, 235 N. Lilac Ave., Rialto
Highland's Giving Garden, 3606 Atlantic Ave. Highland, 92346. http://www.highlandsgivinggarden.org Contact:Tracey Powell, 909-518-5056 (MGs Jerry Poupard and Christy L. Gray)
City of Redlands 3 Gardens run by the Community Center:
Smiley Garden, 1210 W. Cypress, Redlands
Clement Garden, 501 E. Pennsylvania, Redlands
Lugonia Garden, East of Texas St between Lugonia and Pennsylvania
Yucaipa Community Garden, at the Green Valley Village Senior Apartments, 34955 Yucaipa Blvd, Yucaipa. (MGs: Jillian Kowalczuk and Adam Wagner)
Loma Linda Community Garden on Van Leuven (largely vacant… needs someone to take an interest)
Victoria SDA Church, 1860 Mountain View Ave. Loma Linda. Contact: Tom 909-556-8801
Seeds of Hope School Garden, Redlands High School. Contact: MG Connie Kevari
Peggy Christian Memorial Garden, 1102 Chestnut Ave, Redlands. Contact Paul Dickau, Helping Hands Pantry, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phelan Community Center, Sheep Creek Road, MG Michelle Hannon. 760-912-5779
Physician Health Cooperative Corp. 16245 Desert Knoll Drive, Victorville. 760-955-9555. Contact: Kim Ammerman, MG Trainee and Administrator at PHCC.
School Garden at Desert Knolls Elementary School. Contact: Valerie Kimmel-Oliva
School Garden at Phelan Elementary School. (Doug Arnold knows of this)
Rim of the World Rec and Park District Community Garden at Mountain Communities Senior/Community Center, 675 Grandview Drive, Twin Peaks 909-337-7275
Big Bear Community Garden Project has 2 gardens:
“China Gardens” at 42050 Fox Farm Road, Beg Bear Lake
“The Ranch Community Garden” on Lakewood in Erwin Lake Contact: 909-866-9700 or bbvcgp.weebly.com
*** Gardens being built and to be finished spring 2019/span>
- Author: Michele Martinez
Commercially processed pumpkin seeds are shelled, so they are green, in color. Pepitas can be shelled after roasting, but we always ate them "shell-on". The white outer layer is thin, so it becomes crisp and tasty in the oven. Here is Dad's quick method for toasting pumpkin seeds:
- As you scoop out the pulp of the pumpkin, separate the seeds with your hands (kids enjoy this squishy job!)
- Place seeds in a bowl of very salty water (add as much salt as the water will hold).
- After a few minutes of soaking, remove the seeds from the water and clear away any remaining pulp.
- Place on a baking sheet and roast at 375 degrees for about ten minutes, checking often to see that they do not burn. Seeds are ready when a hint of golden brown can be seen on the white husks. For additional flavor, try sprinkling chile powder or a dash of lime juice before baking.
- Author: Janet Hartin
European Flower Boxes Provide Beauty and a Welcoming Ambiance. Many European countries pride themselves on colorful displays of geraniums, ivy, and other flowers adorning window planters of hotels, restaurants, and even train stations. I had always marveled at their use, particularly by Austrians and Germans whose love of these colorful planters seems equal to their affinity for weiner schnitzel. What a surprise to find them plentiful in Ireland, as well! As I walked through Dublin (Read More) the last few days I noted the great care that both shopkeepers and plant care companies exercise in tending these lovely and delicate works of art. I walked by the same restaurant one morning and again in the late afternoon to find the same two horticulturists tediously fussing over a dozen or so planters sporting bright hues of blues, yellows, and reds with over twelve varieties of annuals. With plentiful natural rainfall, most are not on irrigation systems which reduces maintenance costs and time. I asked ‘Carol' (one of the crew) what she liked most about her job and she quickly answered “seeing smiles on so many faces from just seeing the flowers”. Well said! I hope these photos help brighten your day as well.
- Select a location where you can truly enjoy the fruits of your labor.
- Select a box that has drainage holes and line wooden boxes with plastic (punch holes to match drainage holes) to prevent chemical leakage from certain types of wood.
- Draw a rough sketch of what you hope your final box will resemble once mature.
- Select annuals that won't outgrow the space and that tolerate the sunny or shady microclimate and that require similar amounts of water (eases hand-watering).
- Select plants with a wide array of colors and forms. Adding trailing varieties with upright plants enhances the beauty and adds interest.
- Fill the planter box half-way with loose garden soil or compost. An alternative is to use potting soil. Avoid heavy soils with poor drainage. Moisten the soil until it resembles a well rung-out sponge.
- Take one last look before you plant by carefully setting your plants on top of the soil. Consider the final size of the mature plants to avoid overplanting.
- Once you're satisfied with your design, plant your selections at the same depth they were in their pots, gently tamping the soil around them for support.
- Thoroughly water the plants, making sure water drains through the holes.
- Water as often as needed the first few weeks after planting since container boxes dry out faster than garden plants. The frequency of irrigation can decrease as plants mature.
- Hand-weed and apply fertilizer as needed.
- Author: Catherine Bibeau
Two years ago I went to the Walker Canyon poppy superbloom twice; once when there were lots of people, and a second time early in the morning when there were very few visitors. It was unbelievably beautiful. I felt compelled to try to grow poppies one more time.
During a visit to the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley last year (theodorepayne.org). I picked up several packs of California Golden Poppy seed and a few packs of red poppy seed. Last September I sprinkled all but one of the packs along the dry creek bed we'd put in years ago. I kept all the seed within the rocky confines of the creek.
Fast forward to this past winter. There was another superbloom in Walker Canyon. I saw that one as well, and somehow it seemed even more spectacular than the 2017 superbloom. I wished I could have a bit of that golden glory of my own to see every day. But all I had was a dry creek bed. Period.
And then – a tiny, unmistakable poppy leaf appeared from under a rock. Later in the day, it had the company of another tiny poppy leaf. I scrutinized the seeded creek bed daily, like a 49er examining his claim, hoping to find gold. During the following weeks more and more little poppy plants popped up. I was thrilled. But that's all there was. Plants. No little golden explosions of color. I thought “Well, okay. It's a start. Better than I've done before. Maybe next year.”
On March 15 at 11:29 a.m. I saw it: One lone Golden California Poppy atop a long, reedy stem. It wasn't open, but in my eyes it was the singularly most stunningly gorgeous and perfect flower that ever existed. It was every happy holiday, birthday, and special occasion all rolled up in soft petals of golden orange. I was sure it was smiling at me.
Poppies are wild flowers; they grow where they want, and regardless of how their seeds are placed, I am certain that when no one is looking, those little seeds get up and march to the very spot they think they should be. The strictures of a human plan cannot contain them; they are an expression of freedom in nature. If we are lucky, we get to witness that expression.
The golden poppies have been joined by red poppies, appearing somewhat later than the goldens. They are growing outside of the creek bed and have shown that their design sense is far superior to mine. Each of them is perfectly situated, their size and colors in a balanced palette I could never achieve.
Next September I will again seed poppies. But this time I will toss them into the breeze, rather than in a neat arrangement of where I think they ought to grow. The poppies know much better than I where they ought to be.
Cathi Bibeau is a home gardener, growing various fruits, seasonal vegetables and a few types of ornamental flowers. And now poppies.